Three players sent off, and four goals conceded; could Algeria have come up with a more shocking display, after their excellent victory over the Ivory Coast in the quarter finals? I doubt it. Six-time champions Egypt racked up four simple goals as they dominated ‘Les Fennecs’ from start to finish, in a hotly-contested North African derby. Compared to their controversial victory in Sudan just ten weeks ago, Algeria disappointed their fans who had travelled thousands of miles to Angola.
- Portsmouth’s Belhadj was dismissed for a disgraceful lunge on Al Muhammadi
With both sides unchanged from their quarter final encounters, the match began at a high tempo, with an influx of physical challenges. If anything, Algeria looked the most likely to score, soaking up any Egyptian pressure before launching a quick counter-attack. Karim Ziani’s long range effort went narrowly wide, before Bougherra headed over from a Belhadj corner. Egypt started to take a stranglehold of the game, and forced the first clear-cut opportunity of the half. Mohamed Zidan flicked the ball to Motaeb, whose curling effort was well saved by Chaouchi.
The trouble began to flare up after thrity-six minutes, when Rafik Halliche – already booked – sluggishly brought Motaeb down inside the box, duly being given his marching orders. Abd Rabou despatched the penalty, although his stop-start approach incensed Chaouchi, who chased down the referee before appearing to raise his hands to him. Luckily, only a yellow card was received. Bougherra then caught Rabou with an elbow, although the offence was not seen by the officials. The fireworks had started.
- Abdelshafi scored with his first touch to make it 3-0
As the second half began, there only seemed to be one winner. Motaeb and Zidan saw close range efforts go off target, before Algeria’s Yebda has his free-kick beaten out by El Hadary. Rabou almost doubled the lead with his stinging shot, before the goal finally came. Zidan picked up a loose ball before dancing around two defenders and expertly curling home from the edge of the box. Algeria’s frustration told just two minutes later, with Portsmouth’s Belhadj rightly dismissed for a reckless two-footed lunge on Al Muhammadi.
In the last ten minutes, Egypt’s superiority in numbers told, adding two more goals to create a humiliating scoreline. Abdelshafi scored with his first touch, sumptuously slotting home from a narrow angle, before ‘Les Fennecs’ already depleted team lost another player. Chaouchi, who was lucky to still be on the pitch, received a second yellow for a wild swing at Gedo who ran onto an offside pass. Gedo then picked himself up to roll in a fourth from ten yards to seal the ‘Pharaohs’ revenge emphatically, and book a place in the final against Ghana.
- Chaouchi was one of three Algerians to be dismissed
After the match, Algerian coach Rabah Saadane told BBC Sport, ‘The referee decided the outcome. He gave our best defender [Halliche] a red card for what was not a penalty. “And when we had to play with three men down, it was impossible to come back against a team like Egypt, who play the ball around very well.’